I say, exclaims the very black overweight immigration officer at Jombo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, flashing very white teeth at me, you are born in Tanzania; so you speak Kiswahili, then?
Vizoori sana, I say, hoping my love and grasp for the language still shines. But she resorts to English, disappointing me.
So you need a visa?
Yes please, I reply.
Okay, give me money; she flashes teeth.
Startled, I ask, money?
Yes, yes, money, pesa, rubbing fingers of a hand together. For the visa, heh, heh. She bares her teeth, again.
Oh, I say, relieved. How much?
I say, she says looking at me demurely, give me what you have, I’ll give you change…if you want it back.
Huh? I hand over a crisp US$50 bill. She looks and feels it lovingly and then, leaving me flabbergasted, smells it, inhaling deeply.
Ahhh, she croons merrily, nothing smells better than a crisp dollar note, heh, heh, heh.
She turns serious abruptly, writes a receipt for US$25 and hands it to me.
You asked for 5 days stay, I give you a month, kareebu!
I am treated to a flash of teeth yet again; this is one happy mama.
Well, asante sana, I respond.
So I wait for my change but she looks at me unseeingly.
My change, Ma’am? I ask.
Oh, so you want it, sivyo?
Now she is all stern and businesslike, no flashing teeth.
Yes, please, I reply but my voice squeaks for some reason; my response comes out nervous.
Very reluctantly, like a child parting with a favorite toy, she selects a US$20 bill from a wad in her pocket large enough to choke a horse and passes it over to me. Then she returns the stack to her pocket and looks at me; we study each other, I wary, she unmoving. After what seems to be an eternity, which is actually only a few second, she lets out a long disappointed sigh, violently scratches decorated hair and scalp, gruffly reaches into her pocket, looks for a fiver and tosses it curtly on the counter and shouts next! I am dismissed; I grab my passport and walk, run towards the exit.
My due diligence trip to Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Sallam, Dodoma and Morogoro are very fruitful.
In Kenya, CAI helps with US$10,000 in food grains to draught stricken farmers outside Mombasa and will, insha’Allah, grant higher education scholarships worth US$25,000 to poor gifted students, especially girls, to pursue and complete a degree or vocation training enabling rapid employment.
For Tanzania, CAI is finishing up due diligence for either an elementary school in a poor neighborhood of Dar es Sallam or a vocational college for girls in Zanzibar. Additionally, CAI will grant higher education scholarships worth US$50,000 to poor gifted students, insha’Allah.
I also visit Dar ul Muslemeen run by the exceptionally talented and dedicated Muslim Bhanji in Dodoma, Tanzania. Muslims’s over 22 year’s sacrificial efforts is paying huge dividends in educating very poor and destitute children in the Dodoma area. Dar ul Muslemeen is a shining example of what a single person’s determination can achieve. The taxi ride to and from Dodoma, about 7 hours each way is an eye delight this time of year, with hues of flower color most of the way, spoilt only by numerous halts from traffic police in unrelenting pursuit of bribes. We are stopped 8 times, and chided for not carrying a first aid kit and even for discoloration of the vehicle hood!
Click here for a few photos – enjoy!